PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 20/15/99
UA 81/99 Fear for Safety 20 April 1999
INDIAY. Mani, human rights defender
On 16 April 1999, human rights defender Y. Mani was taken into army custody
where he was badly beaten and threatened with death. Although released the
next day, Amnesty International is concerned for his continued safety.
Mr Mani is Vice President of the All Manipur United Clubs Organization (AMUCO),
which has recently protested about human rights violations in the state.
Security forces from the 32 Rashtirya Rifles [a unit of the armed forces]
searched his home first before leaving an arrest document with his father and
taking him to the local army camp.
Once at the camp they accused him of belonging to the Revolutionary Peoples
Front (RPF - an armed opposition group operating in Manipur). They also accused
his and several other non-governmental organizations in Manipur of having links
to armed opposition groups.
They reportedly then beat him about his body, including his head and face,
with a wooden stick and on his back with an iron chain and threatened to shoot
him and dump his body.
It appears that Y. Mani was only handed over to the Superintendent of Police
in Bishenpur District the next day as a result of appeals by AMUCO and the
intervention of the Governor of Manipur. He was handed over to police as “white”,
which indicates that he is not a suspect.
The Rashtirya Rifles have reportedly admitted arresting Y. Mani but have denied
torturing him and claim that they released him as soon as they discovered he
was Vice President of AMUCO.
Y. Mani needed to be hospitalized for two days as a result of his injuries.
Human rights activists visiting him there said that he was bruised and swollen
and that one of his toes had been crushed. Although now out of hospital he
is not staying at his home for reasons of safety.
Manipur, a north-eastern state of India, has been riven by internal conflict
for decades. Its troubled political history has been perpetuated by a multitude
of factors including economic under-development, drug-smuggling and
corruption. Armed opposition groups have emerged, organized on the basis of
community affiliations, making conflicting demands for greater autonomy and
Human rights violations by security forces, in the context of the conflict,
are widespread. For some years Amnesty International has expressed concern
about illegal detention, torture, including rape, death in custody and an
official policy which appears to sanction killings by security forces. Special
legislation introduced into Manipur decades ago in the form of the Armed Forces
Special Powers Act allows for virtual impunity for the armed forces.
This climate makes the work of human rights defenders extremely difficult.
In response to human rights violations, local people have come together to
protest at the activities of security forces - most commonly forming Joint